Illness or Sickness: which is it?

Struggling as I am currently with recovering some sort of physical balance whilst playing with various dosages of my medication (Carbamazepine, aka Tegretol) something suddenly occurred to me: was I ill or was I sick? And if I could answer that question, what was the difference between illness and sickness?

Because I left university all those years ago as a linguist, I still have the 'dictionary reflex'. Unfortunately, the Oxford Dictionary of the English language was not all that helpful:

  1. ill: physically or mentally unwell
  2. sick:physically or mentally unwell

That's not very illuminating, except that there's a second bit added to 'sick', and that is: 'likely to vomit'. This last bit is very important because I have noticed there is ONE BIG difference between my being ill and my being sick:

  • When I am ill I want to eat all the time.
  • When I am sick I can't eat a thing.

The symptoms might be exactly the same but my attitude to food is the one indicator that I am ill or I am sick.

If I am sick (I don't have to 'feel sick' i.e. nauseous or on the edge of vomiting) I just don't want to go anywhere near food.

If I feel ill, I have trouble stopping myself shoving food down my face. It is as if I was desperate to stoke up the internal engine of my energy just like steam locomotives used to get stoked up with coal to keep going.

I wonder how many people out there have experienced this same difference?....

Judging my behaviour by the above criteria, I became aware of the following:

  • Bi-Polar Disorder makes me ill
  • Medication makes me sick!

That's not the most cheerful conclusion to come too but there is a profound truth in this and one I shall ponder further before I hit my psychiatrist with it. The poor chap is used to my 'brain droppings' as George Carlin would have put it!

In the meantime, I will continue being sick while being grateful that I am not ill and with the most genuine good grace I can muster.

Hint of forced smile closely resembling irritated grimace..... :D

Illness or sickness

Your brain droppings are very stimulating Gabrielle - they kind of transform my marzipan grey matter into marshmallow melting on a campfire (I suppose I'll have brain drippings). 



Anyway your latest post reminded me of a time when I was ill with post viral fatigue. 

As I saw it, the illness left me with debilitating fatigue (and other symptoms). I was tired and sick. 


My first response, after the initial grief, was to rally against it. I was sick and tired. 


'Tired and sick' had seemed to be beyond my control somehow - but 'sick and tired' reassured me that I had the impetus, somewhere inside, to get well.

Go well.

Love and hugs



Thank you Julie

I love your comment - your 'sick and tired' is so wonderfully relevant :D xx

Illness or Sickness

Hi Bipolar Girl,

 When I was really manic and unmedicated, I had no appetite at all Why waste your time eating?

I had too many important things to do ... So by your definition I was really sick. And I was.  ...Karen:))

Thank you Karen

 I recognise what you say - it's amazing how you just can't invent that stuff: you've got to have lived it :D xx

Eating NOT eating

Hi ladies.... Karen already knows who I am (sort of have a talent for being

When I have been manic to psychotic food has no relevance..... have always lost heaps of weight in a very short period. Racing here there and everywhere, no sleep, mind and body on full throttle. So - not good for your health. Adversely..... when depressed to suicidal food need is huge..... not healthy food of course.... but the stuff full of sugar and fat..... blocks of chocolate, cakes etc etc and weight gain is fast and FAT.... again not good for your health. Let's throw in cigarette smoking for good measure and copious amounts of coffee. Hmmmm - strange but - I still have reasonable cholesterol levels and every blood test I have shows no sign of diabetes. Destined to live a long life.... damn!!!!

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